"Things will change. If you're in the gutter, statistically speaking, it's going to get better." - guy in a podcast talking about his advice to people going through rough shit. He's not overly optimistic, but he is realistic. This is my memory of the quote, not the real thing (ain't nobody got time for that).
Now the heavy stuff. Death.
My Grandma died one year ago today (June 6, 2015). In the car ride to the train station my mom said, “Wow, what a year it has been.” It truly has been a year, especially for my mama. What’s comforting is we are all together and I’m doing exactly what Grandie enjoyed doing, spending time with family. I was at her favorite place for the weekend, the farm, and am heading to see my cousins in State College now, another place she loved to visit. Next week we reunite with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Outer Banks. I can just picture her in her beach hat, and that makes me smile.
I didn’t intentionally try to think a lot about death today, but I was exploring some new podcasts on my long train journey and started one called “Death, Sex, and Money.” It sounds hardcore, but it’s a really thoughtful podcast. I listened to a few episodes on addiction and then one called "When I Almost Died.” I got lost in this episode as I looked out the train window onto the peaceful Pennsylvania farmland.
The episode included multiple people talking about their experiences facing death, either themselves or of a loved one. It was moving. A common thread was that after facing death, people found death to be peaceful and comforting, instead of scary. One woman was blogging her way through terminal cancer. She just found out she had three months to a year to live and was describing how she was much less scared of death than she’d once been. She accepted it. In a seemingly-selfish way she was like, “This is where my part ends. For me that’s easy. Everyone else suffers, but not me.” This is true and in an odd way brings more peace to those suffering, knowing that at least the suffering of your loved one is no longer.
My mom described her near death experience as this kind of easy acceptance, “Well, if this is it, this is it.” Thank fucking god it wasn’t, but I’m more comforted in the future to know that death is pretty simple. It’s straightforward and you don’t really have a choice, so you just accept it.
I’m still scared of it, but it’s not worth the fear. You just never know when it may come. I’m not going to go out of my way to put myself in risky situations, but I never want to live life in fear, so this podcast was a nice reminder not to fear.
For Grandie, I think it was her time. She had suffered a lot. I miss her, but that’s ok. I’m glad we miss her. It’s better than the alternative. She had her fair share of struggles in life, and I like to think of her at peace finally in the place that she loved the most -- the farm.
I wrote this last year for Grandie’s memorial:
When I think about Grandie I hear her voice. A little high pitched, filled with warmth and pleasure.
When I think about Grandie I think of a juicy peach and sticky fingers.
When I think about Grandie I think of tinkering around -- sometimes with no real purpose. I think of a comfy chair and a good book. A messy plate of food. Scribbly handwriting. Vanilla ice cream.
I know there was pain and difficulty, but that’s not what I think about. What I really think about is floating in the pool on a warm summer night -- her favorite thing in the world. My favorite thing in the world.
May heaven bring peace and be all of those wonderful things. May heaven be a warm summer night floating in the pool for Grandie.
I was thinking about her today in the car and all the sudden remembered an early memory.
I remember she was coming into visit my class at Montessori school in Texas. I must have been five or six at the time. I had this idea in my head about how Grandma’s should look and I was so embarrassed because my Grandma didn't look like this. Instead, she looked so young and pretty. I was praying she wouldn’t wear her hair neatly pinned back, because she looked even younger then. She came into class and, ugh, I was embarrassed. She looked good.
I even remember my teacher Ms. Karen commenting on how pretty my grandma was. WTF Ms. Karen! I was like, “Why does everyone else’s Grandma look like a real Grandma and mine doesn’t!?” I have no clue why this came back to me, but it really happened, and I distinctly remember it. I was a goddamn fool. Child! I hope I look half as good as she did.
She was so dry and funny. Man, I know where some of my sense of humor came from. You better be thanking Grandie for all of the genetic giggles she’s passed down to me which I’ve been able to pass on to you. “You’re welcome.” I speak for Grandie today.
I know she’d love reading my blog.
I’ll let her enjoy it in spirit, which brings my fan-base to three people (thanks again, Mom and Dad). I’m not sure if I can count my dad actually. I asked what he thought about the “Airport Dad” post from the other day and he said, “It was fine. They are all fine.” FINE? That’s high praise from him I suppose.
Love you, Grandie.
I'm driving with my cousin to Chicago in a Penske truck tomorrow. This should be interesting.
- Wake up too early
- Ride shotgun
- Keep riding
- Stop for a pee
- More driving until we get to Chicago
- Tired AF